Lion & the Unicorn
“The Lion and the Unicorn” have been part of the United Kingdom history since 1603 when Scotland and England were unified.
Even before James I of England unified the two kingdoms, they were already symbols in their Royal Arms, two lions being emblem of England while two unicorns were standing for Scotland.
Since 1603 the Lion and the Unicorn are elements in the Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, standing for the unification of the two kingdoms.
The unicorn is a legendary creature, sometimes depicted as a white horse, sometimes as a cross between a horse and a goat with a horn in the middle of its forehead.
Legends describe this horn as having miraculous powers: cure diseases, cleanses evil, giving life.
The lion is a respected, valued and even defied animal in some cultures.
Its identity as a symbol of power dates back 5,000 years. The lion’s mane is a royal symbol being often compared with the sun rays.
“The Lion and the Unicorn” is traditional nursery rhyme telling the story of the enmity and the fight of suzerainty of the two kingdoms, the lion and the unicorn being symbols of their power and dominance.
The lion and the unicorn
Were fighting for the crown
The lion beat the unicorn
All around the town.
Some gave them white bread,
And some gave them brown;
Some gave them plum cake
and drummed them out of town.
And when he had beat him out,
He beat him in again;
He beat him three times over,
His power to maintain.
Lewis Carroll book, “Through the Looking Glass” identifies the characters of the Lion as the Red Kings’s Rook and the Unicorn as the White Queens Knight within the story.
The Lion & the Unicorn are forever fighting over the crown of the White King, which given that the Unicorn os on the white side makes his part in the rivalry all the more absurd.
Lewis Carroll subverts the traditional view of a lion being alert & calculating by making this particular lion slow and rather stupid, although clearly the better fighter!
The role of the Unicorn is likewise reversed by the fact that he see Alice as a “Monster”, although he promises to start believing in her if she will believe in him.
John Tenniel’s illustration for the section caricatures William Eurart Gladstone as the Unicorn & Benjamin Disraeli as the lion, alluding to the pairs frequent parliamentary battles. Although there is no evidence that this was Lewis Carroll’s intention.
The Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom is the official coat of arms of the British Monarchy currently Queen Elizabeth II.
These arms are used by the Queen in her official capacity as monarch of the UK Variants of the Royal Arms are used by other members of the British royal family, by the British Government in connection with the administration and government of the country, and some courts and legislatures in a number of Commonwealth realms.
In Scotland, there exists a separate version of the Royal Arms, a variant of which is used by the Scotland Office and the judiciary. The arms in banner formserve as basis for the monarch’s official flag, known as the Royal Standard.